By Chris Lang
Peter Singh Virdee has been sentenced to more than three years in prison. According to a report in the German magazine The Spiegel, a Frankfurt am Main court sentenced Virdee to three years and three months for serious tax evasion. Virdee was part of a scam involving VAT fraud and the sale of carbon credits.
Peter Virdee sentenced
The Spiegel reports that the Frankfurt am Main court issued the judgment against Virdee on 16 December 2021. The judgment was not made public and The Spiegel reported the sentence one week later.
Virdee’s confession to his role in the carousel VAT fraud, and voluntary “reparation payments” amounting to €3.9 million, played a role in the sentencing, The Spiegel reports.
According to The Spiegel Virdee was at one point one of the most wanted men in Europe. He tried to keep his identity hidden and was known as “Batman”. Virdee was a donor to the UK Conservative Party. Between 2011 and 2017, his firm B&S Properties gave £98,000 to the Tories.
Carousel VAT fraud
REDD-Monitor has written about VAT fraud involving carbon credits several times since 2016. The first post came after the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Frankfurt am Main issued a wanted poster for three men who were suspected of being involved in money laundering and tax evasion involving carbon credits. One of the men, Mohsin Salya, worked for a company called Lösungen 360 GmbH, a firm registered in Frankfurt in 2009. The company became one of Deutsche Bank’s top trading partners in carbon credits – after six years of investigation, Deutsche Bank repaid €145 million in lost VAT to the German state:
A few weeks after this post, REDD-Monitor received an email from Aadiel Salya, who worked for the Salya Group. Aadiel Salya was concerned about the mention of Mohsin Salya in REDD-Monitor’s post. He told me that I had “wrongfully written” the post and Aadiel Salya was keen to see the post removed “with the upmost urgency”:
In June 2016, Mohsin Salya turned himself in to the authorities in Germany. In November 2016, a court in Frankfurt am Main sentenced Salya to three years and three months in prison for “serious tax evasion”.
In January 2017, police arrested Peter Singh Virdee at Heathrow airport. Virdee was accused of fraud and €125 million in unpaid VAT on sales of carbon credits. He faced extradition to Germany and a possible 15-year sentence. Virdee denied any wrong-doing:
Predictably enough, REDD-Monitor heard from Mohsin Salya’s solicitors – as did investigative journalist Andrew Penman at The Mirror. The solicitors told me that, “This information is outdated since months”.
I wrote a post about this in March 2017, by which time the Lancashire Post had reported that Aadiel Salya had been “found guilty of conspiracy to defraud after being linked to Preston-based company Replacemycar Ltd”:
Peter Virdee’s German lawyers successfully challenged the arrest warrant against Virdee that was issued by the court in Frankfurt am Main. The extradition proceedings against Virdee fell away.
But the German authorities had tapped Virdee’s phone as part of their investigations into the suspected VAT fraud. The phone calls became public as the result of a hearing involving Virdee at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. The phone calls reveal Virdee talking about making payments to high level Caribbean politicians:
In February 2020, prosecutors in Frankfurt am Main announced they were once again seeking the arrest of Peter Virdee:
In June 2019, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported that Mohsin Salya and another man, Imran Yakub Ahmed, were detailed in thousands of leaked documents from the UK tax authorities and prosecutors from across Europe.
Reports by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and The Sunday Times suggest links with terrorism. Both Salya and Ahmed deny any such links. The Sunday Times reports that a 2003 HMRC internal report, based on information found on a laptop in Afghanistan, states that,
“We are clearly dealing with a highly organised and sophisticated group of Asian individuals who appear to be operating a massive MTIC [missing trader] fraud.” . . . [T]he money was “mainly transferred onto Pakistan but also Hong Kong and Dubai, and is most likely to be linked to terrorism”.
In 2017, Ahmed was convicted of carousel VAT fraud in Italy and was given a two-year suspended sentence. He lives a luxurious lifestyle in Dubai from where he runs a multi-million pound property portfolio. Salya served half his sentence and also lives in Dubai, “seemingly surrounded by wealth”, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism writes. Pictures on Salya’s Instagram account showed him driving a car with a custom designed Hermès interior and sitting on top of a Cadillac SUV.